Google Books Talks Show 'Substantial Progress,' No Deal

Google Book Search negotiations will move forward into July 2012, according to New York District Court Judge Denny Chin.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the authors and publishers contingent who sued it for copyright infringement in 2005 reported making "substantial progress" toward reaching a reasonable agreement, the third time the parties have attempted to come to terms in the last two years.

New York District Court Judge Denny Chin acknowledged at a status conference Sept. 15 that he was "still hopeful" that a resolution could be reached, according to Bloomberg.

However, the deal is at least a year away after Chin signed off on a schedule of events running through July 31, 2012, according to James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at New York Law School.

Google and the plaintiffs have been back and forth at the bargaining table since March this year, when Chin struck down a deal that would let the search giant scan and store millions of "orphaned" works. Orphaned works include titles that are out of print and whose authors can't be found or are unknown.

Chin said then that the deal "would give Google a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works" and deemed it unfair to rights' holders whose copyrighted works would be served online without their permission.

That deal was a revision of an earlier agreement in which Google would pay a one-time fee of $125 million to settle with authors and publishers, and create a Book Rights Registry through which it can share money for digital books sold with the authors and publishers.

The U.S. Justice Department said the deal might violate antitrust and copyright law, which prompted Google to revise the settlement in November 2009.

The DOJ asked Chin to oppose the deal, citing copyright and antitrust issues that render it anti-competitive. Chin's rejection of the deal in March triggered the current negotiations.

Due to the complexity of the agreement, and the changes Chin ordered, the parties have essentially started over.

Google told eWEEK Sept. 15 it has made progress with the Association of American Publishers in the deal, though it is still working on terms that are amenable to the Authors Guild.

"We're encouraged by the progress we've made with publishers, and we believe we can reach an agreement that offers great benefits to users and rights' holders alike," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK.

"We will continue to explore options with the authors. However, we proposed an aggressive timeline to resume the original litigation, and we were heartened by Judge Chin's agreement on a speedy schedule for proceeding."

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) added: "Today, we informed the court that the Association of American Publishers, the five publisher plaintiffs and Google have made good progress toward a settlement that would resolve the pending litigation regarding the Google Library Project. We are working to resolve the differences that remain between the parties and reach terms that are mutually agreeable."